Bass as a game fish has a universal appeal that transcends age groups, cultures, and genders. Because all of North Carolina’s major lakes have thriving bass populations, the Tar Heel State is a top destination for bass anglers from all over the world. Take your best fishing poles and head to one of these North Carolina fishing spots to see what all the fuss is about.
Discover the Best Bass Fishing Destinations in North Carolina
High Rock Lake
High Rock Lake, also known as High Rock Reservoir, is home to a thriving population of catfish, crappie, and stripers, in addition to being a highly productive bass fishing destination. High Rock Lake, a reservoir on the Yadkin River, is located south of the city of Lexington. It encompasses approximately 15,000 surface acres of freshwater.
Despite its well-documented fertility, this location has not gained the same widespread recognition as other, larger lakes such as Gaston or Buggs Island. It has also not yet achieved the level of fame enjoyed by lakes located on the outskirts of major metropolitan areas such as Falls of the Neuse, Wylie, Shearon Harris, or Jordan.
Even so, High Rock Lake is more than just the runt of the litter when it comes to natural beauty. By far, it is best known for its excellent spinnerbait color, which is consistent throughout the year. Bass fishing, crappie fishing, channel catfishing, and flathead fishing are all consistently productive, as is the fishing for largemouth bass. Another thing that has enticed anglers who have set their sights on High Rock after failing to find success at other lakes is the abundance of striper that can be found in the lake.
This fertile, 15,180-acre lake in North Carolina’s north central segment has 365 miles of shoreline and is located in the state’s north central segment. Depending on your preference, you can go shore fishing or fish from a canoe, boat, or kayak. High Rock is unquestionably one of the best fishing spots in North Carolina, and it is home to marinas that offer a variety of services and goods to boaters, including boat rentals when necessary.
Prior to heading out on the water, any angler can stock up on groceries, ice, beverages, bait, and fishing tackle. Boat docks can also be found on the lake, ensuring that low-depth bass and other species of fish have plenty of cover to hide from predators. If the fish do decide to venture further away from the bank, High Rock Lake offers a wide variety of drop-offs, humps, ledges, and creek channels in which to set up shop. Bright lures and spinnerbaits are ideal for catching fish in this lake.
High Rock Lake is primarily an offshore fishing ground, and the western edge of the old Uwharrie Mountains, as well as the verdant hills of Piedmont, provide a beautiful backdrop for those who prefer to fish away from the bank. Only in the spring should you be angling the banks, even though there are plenty of boat docks available for you to choose from.
Anglers looking for crappie, largemouth bass, stripers, catfish, and white bass can participate in fishing parties organized by guide service providers. Find a fishing guide who is familiar with the spots off the bank where the fish can be found.
June is one of the best months to be out on the water because it is the first month after spawning when most species are back to feeding after a long period of rest. Stripers and bass will almost certainly have made their way back down the river and into the main body of the lake by that time, as well as the other species. Crappie will also have begun to congregate on offshore cover and structure by this time. For the catfish, as the water begins to warm in preparation for the summer season, they will almost certainly be enticed to strike while the opportunity presents itself.
Fontana Lake, the largest body of water in all of western North Carolina, is unquestionably picturesque. The Great Smoky Mountains surround it on all sides. Aside from the fact that the Fontana Dam, at 480 feet tall, is the tallest dam east of the Rockies, there isn’t much else to say. The dam’s height is equal to that of a 50-story skyscraper, which is impressive. The Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine, passes through Fontana Dam.
Fontana Lake’s 238-mile shoreline is owned and protected by the Nantahala National Forest and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which together own and protect approximately 90 percent of the shoreline. If you choose to travel along the Indian Lakes Scenic Byway during your drive, there are several scenic overlooks along the way that campers and hikers will find particularly appealing.
Swimming, boating, and fishing are all popular activities at Fontana Lake. There are approximately 400 houseboats in the area, many of which are available for vacation rental. A boat can be used to access many of the more remote sections of the Great Smoky Mountains. A year-round resort that is adjacent to Fontana Dam and bordered by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers camping, cabin rentals, a historic lodge, outdoor pools, restaurants, a marina, putt-putt golf, and a variety of other amenities.
Many different species of fish thrive in the lake’s cold and deep waters, which provide ideal habitat conditions. Walleye and muskie of record-breaking size have been retrieved from its depths. It is also regarded as a fantastic smallmouth bass fishing destination.
Lake Phelps is a large, shallow lake in North Carolina that is close to the state’s southern coast. It can be a haven for anglers who enjoy catching sunfish, crappie, and bass. The lake, which has a total area of 16,600 acres, is located two miles south of Creswell, North Carolina. It is in the shape of a large bowl, with the small shoreline forming a pleasing contour around the rim.
On nearly all of the lake’s banks, there is submerged vegetation and trees, which makes for a beautiful sight. There are boat docks all around the lake as well. Boat launch ramps are available for use by the general public. In and around the lake, there are a number of locations where kayakers and canoeists can launch their craft. An asphalt ramp is available for larger vessels. Because a large portion of the lake is shallow, boaters should exercise caution when navigating through it.
Lake Phelps, located between the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds in eastern North Carolina, is a genuinely productive bass fishing spot. It is the second-largest lake in the world that has formed naturally. There is an abundance of natural cover to accommodate largemouth bass in the area. Furthermore, the abundance of flooded wooded areas and lush grass provides excellent fishing opportunities for a variety of lures to be used in a variety of situations.
On any given day, if the conditions are ideal, you can catch a 25-pound largemouth bass on Lake Phelps with little difficulty.
Shearon Harris Lake
When it comes to bass fishing, Shearon Harris Lake has earned a stellar reputation that has remained consistent over the years. Bass anglers who are well-versed in the sport can catch nearly a hundred bass in an hour. At only 30 to 60 miles per hour, that is significantly faster than the average for Piedmont Lake.
The fact that Shearon Harris Lake has a similar configuration to a large farm pond is the key to the lake’s productivity as a fishing destination. Because bluegills are the primary prey, you can get away with using sunfish-like lures, whether they are swim baits or crank baits, to great effect. When targeting the grass beds, topwater lures and soft plastics are the most effective techniques.
Hydrilla, primrose, and lilies, among other plants, provide an ideal habitat for butterflies. Also abundant in the area above the bridge in the White Oak Creek channel are water lilies, which can be seen in abundance. Approximately 80 percent of the fish caught in Shearon Harris Lake are larger than 14 inches in length, 15 percent are larger than 20 inches in length, and 55 percent are larger than 16 inches in length.
Furthermore, the lake is governed by special regulations that ensure a consistent fishery throughout the year. When it comes to largemouth, the minimum size limit is 14 inches, even though two of the largemouth are smaller than that. You are also not permitted to keep any fish between the sizes of 16 and 20 inches. As a result of the high mortality rate associated with catch-and-release angling, largemouth bass fishing is under a tremendous amount of pressure. The slot limit protects the fish from becoming overfished.
Sutton Lake is yet another popular bass fishing spot. Because of the new bass regulations, anglers are now permitted to keep up to five bass larger than 14 inches, with the exception of two fish that are smaller than 14 inches, on the lake. Bass fishing is prohibited in the majority of coastal plain fisheries if the bass are less than 14 inches in length. This helps to balance out the small fish population, which helps to prevent stunted growth when there are simply too many largemouth bass in a given area.
From December 1 through March 1, another policy that has allowed Lake Sutton to maintain its reputation as a premier bass fishing destination is the prohibition on keeping fish. The lake is much smaller in size than other cooling lakes, covering only 1,100 acres instead of the usual 2,000. Because it is during the colder months that the bass congregate in the warm water channels, anglers tend to go overboard during this time. Due to the bass’s proclivity to disperse around the lake later in the year, they are less vulnerable to predators.
In the spring, the shallow nature of Lake Waccamaw makes it a good spot for the average angler to go bass fishing due to its shallow depth. During the summer, however, the situation is completely different. This is due to the fact that the shallows warm up more quickly in the spring than the other sections of the lake. The largemouth bass will be found in close proximity to the shoreline in this area. Having said that, if the first warm weather days arrive exactly at the time of the full moon, fishing will be a tremendously rewarding experience.
If you simply concentrate on the shoreline and the visible structure there, such as docks, reed grass, and weed beds, you won’t even need to bring many electronics with you in the spring. Remember to stop by some of the stakes that line the lake’s edge, which are approximately 100 yards from the shoreline.
Jordan Lake used to be the premier bass fishing destination for residents of North Carolina during the 1980s and 1990s. As a result of heavy fishing pressure, that reputation has suffered a slight decline, though only by a few notches. This lake still has a lot to offer bass anglers, and any cast will result in a catch that will allow you to break your own personal best.
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission implemented a creel limit in 1987, limiting the number of fish that could be taken each day to four, with a minimum size of 16 inches. Jordan Lake has developed into a genuine trophy fishery since the imposition of the limit, and it has maintained that reputation for the past two and a half decades.
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